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Inflammation of the bursa at the elbow

INFLAMMATION OF THE BURSA AT THE ELBOW

Diagnosis: INFLAMMATION OF THE BURSA AT THE ELBOW
(BURSITIS OLECRANEI)

Anatomy:
There is a large bursa on the point of the elbow (olecranon) which protects the elbow bone against blows and pressure.

Cause: A blow or fall on the point of the elbow (football goal-keeper) can cause the bursa to become inflamed, swell and become tender.

Symptoms: Tenderness and swelling on the point of the elbow with pain conditioned constriction of movement of the arm following a strenuous load (fall). The pain is aggravated when the elbow is supported on a table top (the injury is also called "student's elbow").

Acute treatment: Click here.

Examination: The diagnosis is usually made on the basis of a normal medical examination, however, if any doubt surrounds the diagnosis an ultrasound scan can be performed which will clearly show the bursa (Ultrasonic image).

Treatment: Relief and protection from further blows. If no change for the better is experienced, the treatment can be supplemented with rheumatic medicine (NSAID) or injection of corticosteroid in the bursa preceded by draining of the bursa fluid (which can be sent for bacteriological examination) (article).

Rehabilitation:
Normal training can generally be resumed taking care to avoid further blows to the elbow.
See also: rehabilitation, general.


Complications: If the bursa does not diminish following the treatment outlined, the fluid should be drained once again to rule out a bacterial infection in the bursa. If it proves impossible to make the bursa diminish despite repeated treatment, the bursa can be surgically removed, however this will often result in discomfort when resting the elbow on a table top or receiving blows of a similar nature.

Special: The injury can be partially guarded against by use of elbow protection (volley ball players, football goal-keepers).
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